A definition for off-season is a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially : the time during which an athlete is not training or competing. Do you consider your training staff as athletes or your training audiences as competitors? I believe this all depends on your business needs and your learning/development programs. For example, football teams will dismiss their staff ( which includes players, coaches, and tertiary support) for the winter once their last game has been played. Some of these staff will train, volunteer, vacation, and pass the time away until spring training begins. But, they don’t have any plans to develop until the time has arrived to get back to work.
Now baseball players on the other hand are a little different. These athletes especially the players that need development will travel to the tropical regions and play during the winter until spring training. They could be considered self-directed learners because of their drive to improve on their skills for the upcoming season. Others whose contract might be up for negotiation will play during the winter to get noticed by a team scout for future employment. So what does this have to do with training you ask?
What I have professed on several occasions is that developing a workforce during the off-season is an ideal time to improve on some of the skills that are essential for achieving your business needs. Do you have individuals that need training on new software? How about sales people that need to brush up on the latest policy that will impact the technology development of your product? These are a couple of examples that could be considered for off-season development. How can I accomplish this?
As a manager identifying the business needs first is key since this will drive the development schedule that you might want to create for your staff. Along with performance evaluations or individual development plans a manager can get a good idea as to who on the team needs training. Once a hierarchical strategy of importance is established and aligned with your business goals then creating and supporting those development plans becomes essential. Low hanging fruit is always a good start. What I consider is the cost to success ratio and determine if the time committed to the training will be fruitful in the end. But don’t forget the evaluation to this new training and capture key metrics to build upon for the next cycle of training.
Managers need to look at their teams and assess the successes along with the failures to get a good picture of how well his/her teams perform. Once you have created a repetitive model that gives consistent data and measures your plans successfully then apply the model across the spectrum of positions that your depend on. If you would like to learn more about developing your workforce visit this page: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_91.htm